Monthly Archives: October 2008

Homeschool Curriculum Spotlight – Spelling, Reading,Grammar

The Phonics Road To Spelling and Reading is the the number one curriculum on my list!  I honestly don’t believe there is a better curriculum for teaching phonics, spelling, reading, and grammar.  There are lots of other curriculum available on the subject but I have to say that this one is the best I’ve ever seen. 

When we started homeschooling, a very dear friend who had successfully homeschooled her son, recommended I use the Writing Road to Reading or what is also known as the Spalding Method.  Also the works of Dr. Samuel Orton, Anna Gillingham and Oma Riggs who were pioneers of phonics based methods.   I bought the book and loved the concepts.  They break the english language down into all the most common sounds which are called phonograms.  By teaching your student the phonograms and learning to write them, reading and writing comes very naturally.  Now, this is only a very vauge and brief explanation of one small aspect of the Spalding method.  After reading the Writing Road and seeing the results in my own student I have been sold on the method.  My problem with the Spalding materials ( The Writing Road to reading) is that it is not a curriculum so to speak.  You are given the information but the vast majority of putting together of a program, integrating all the aspects of this truly wonderful work done by Romona Spalding and those like her, falls on the sholders of an already very busy parent.  I don’t suppose that Romona Spalding quite envisioned homeschoolers as we are today.  She more than likely was gearing her book toward public educators.  I even purchased the teacher manual from the Spalding folks and it was nice and well thought out but I really had no idea what they were talking about most of the time.  So we stalled out.  

With the absolutly perfect timing of God I was introduced to The Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading.  The Phonics Road is all the wonderful knowlege of Romona Spalding’s work and the Writing Road to Reading broken down into very small and manageable pieces.  Barbara Beers has created an incredibly easy and thorough curriculum.  A preschooler can start on the phonograms and a kindergartner can learn to write them and actually complete level one if they want.  I have learned more in level one than I ever did in all my years of learning grammar in school, which is a very sad thing to admit.  Barbara has put together a DVD presentation for every single lesson, walking you through the information and explanations so that you never ever feel like you don’t know how to teach a lesson.  The explanations are brilliant!  She has compiled songs for all the spelling rules and also grammar tunes as well.  My children love the songs and I know they will remember them forever.  The teacher is also provided a notebook that looks exactly like the students, only ours is completed word for word.  The theme so to speak of this curriculum is construction, as in building a house.  We as the teacher are the journeyman and the student is the apprentice.  They get the tools of language and we guide them in the use and mastery of these tools.  The student’s apprentice handbook is their very own notebook just like yours only just waiting to be filled.  Each step of this process is so well planned out and easy to accomplish that your student is going to become very confident in how to use and understand the English language.  And guess what?  You are too! They will write and mark and sing and repeat day after day, each step building upon the next.   Now, Barbara doesn’t stop there, as the student advances she is going to take us into the Latin Road to English Grammar and I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am!  You might wonder, why Latin?  Well, I think you need to visit the website and read Barbara’s explanation.  I can’t say enough about this curriculum and I don’t think I’ve done it justice. 

The only drawback to this curriculum is the price.  It’s not cheap.  You do have to keep in mind that this is a family business and with all the hours and years of work that Barbara Beers has put into her curriculum, not to mention the personal one on one instruction she provides, I think it’s worth every single penny.  Don’t let the price put you off.  This kind of education for your kids is priceless.  

I hope you will check it out!  www.thephonicsroad.com  Don’t forget to look at all the example pages!

Keep Sailing,

Mary Hugill

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Best Cross Stitch Patterns

Check out www.goldenkite.comfor the prettiest cross stitch patterns I’ve ever seen.  I have been working on their free example for a while now and it is absolutely beautiful!

Mary

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Homeschool Mom Health Moment – Xylitol

I’ve recently taken stock of what I buy for my family and what we eat regularly.  One small change we’ve made that’s completely painless is to replace the sugar in the sugar bowl with Xylitol.  Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that is found in many fruits and is even produced naturally by our bodies.  Xylitol is absorbed differently than sugar and is safe for diabetics.  I found Xylitol at the local health food store and bought a small bag.  Xylitol looks exactly like sugar and can be used in baking as a sugar substitute.  It wasn’t cheap but I found that if I went into the bulk section of the store it was two dollars less expensive per pound. 

The sugar bowl in our house was getting a lot of use and so I simply replaced what I put in the bowl.  Now I know that when the kids need some sugar for their oatmeal, they are getting a spoonful of something that might actually be healthy for them.  I didn’t want to replace all my sugar with Xylitol because on our budget I didn’t see how I could.  Instead it was so easy to replace the sugar that got the most use first.  I’m still experimenting with the Xylitol in recipes and so far it’s been great! 

Small, effectual changes are very rewarding.

Keep Sailing,

Mary Hugill

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Homeschool Curriculum Spotlight – Science Part 2

  As an eclectic homeschool family, one science curriculum was not enough.  We chose Noeo Science as our major science focus but in my research of science curriculum I was also introduced to Real Science For Kids by an acquaintance.  Real Science For Kids was the perfect addition to our heavier “discovery” based science block.   With Real Science For Kids you have three subjects that are covered throughout the year; Chemistry, Biology, and Physics.  What I love about this curriculum is that we get to balance “discovery” with learning foundational principles of science.  I would say that Real Science For Kids is a “fact learning” curriculum.  The main text book is written in the form of a hard cover children’s book with bright and colorful illustrations.  What really makes this curriculum so special is the way the illustrators, Janet Moneymaker and Dr. D. J. Keller have given personalities to all the details of science.  For example, in the Chemistry book you will see atoms as individuals with faces and arms.  Then you will get to see atoms interact with each other to form molecule teams each team illustrated to show how it works.  I was so completely drawn in the first time I looked at the samples of the website.  I was so excited!  I could hardly wait for school to begin!  Each subject is divided into 10 short sections so each section can be covered in a day or more if you like.  We do a section at the end of each week so that if we want we can do the experiment over the weekend.  There is a Teacher’s Manual and a Student Laboratory Workbook that leads you through the scientific method for each chapter.  The text is read to learn a principle and then it is thought about and tested.  The materials needed for all the experiments are listed in the book and can mostly be found around the house. 

I have been very pleased with Real Science and we have had a lot of fun so far.  I would have to say that this curriculum has definitely lived up to my expectations.  I wanted my children to understand and be able apply what they learn in the experiments and they have.  I look forward to seeing the progress as we get to the next levels and I was very happy that we will cover the same subjects again as we advance but in greater detail. 

For more information, check out Real Science For Kids at:  www.gravitaspublications.com

Keep Sailing, 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary Hugill

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Homeschool Curriculum Spotlight – Typing Class

  There is no need to pay for a typing course when there is a great FREE one you can try first!  My oldest child has really enjoyed the BBC School’s Dance Mat Typing.  It’s colorful and easy to follow.  My son laughs and laughs as he learns and gets excited to pass each new level.  Dance Mat Typing is definitely worth giving a try. 

Check it out at www.bbc.co.uk/schools/typing/

Keep Sailing,

Mary Hugill

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Best Homeschool Housekeeping Lifesaver

My homeschool lifesaver, housekeeping friend is www.flylady.net  She swoops right down to my computer with the encouragement and housekeeping organization I need.  All I have to do is follow her short daily instructions.  She knows what it’s like to live in chaos(can’t have anyone over syndrome) and offers her services for free.  In a matter of weeks her program will have your house shining.  All those dust bunnies, the clutter and that mountain of laundry will be off your mind. 

When school gets in full swing around our house I don’t have time to work on a lot of cleaning projects and by the end of the day I’m wiped out!  Without Flylady the work piles up and I get more and more overwhelmed.  It’s amazing how easy it is to keep that monster of work at bay with just a few minutes of upkeep each day. 

I encourage all the moms I know to try Flylady for a month.  It’s free and all you risk is a few emails to delete.  There is no need for us to drown in never-ending toil!  Flylady is a very gracious woman who has dedicated her life to lifting up other women who need help and relief around the house.

Keep Sailing,

Mary Hugill

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Spotlight Homeschool Curriculum – Noeo Science

We are loving Noeo Science for our homeschool and I think you will too. 

Noeo Science is a mix of Charlotte Mason and Classical styles.  Real life books are used as the basis for study and discovery.  The folks at Noeo have searched high and low to bring us the best, most informative and visually captivating books available.  Work pages and  experiment kits bring in the scientific method.  All the work pages for the student are provided in an easy to copy form; either in the master handbook or from the website.  There are a number of options for all ages.  The youngest students have drawing pages and the older students write definitions and also draw what they have learned.  There are also experiment forms to copy but they are also provided in the experiment kits.  All of this can be put into a binder of the students choosing, giving them the chance to experience a scientist’s personal notebook. 

Noeo Science is a creationist viewpoint curriculum that doesn’t exclude the references to evolution and the “old earth” stance that many Christians are opposed to.  This gives the parent the opportunity to address the reality of non-Biblical viewpoints held by most scientists and therefore explain what the Bible teaches on these subjects.  Parents just need to read ahead each week to prepare.  So far, we have not run across any such references and as far as I know they are few and far between. 

The kit comes with a Master Handbook for the parent outlining each days reading and activities.  I have found it to be a sinch to follow, it’s so well planned out.  They have the week arranged as a 4 day week but the schedule is very flexible.  All the books and experiment kits can be ordered separately or in the kit shown on the website.  The folks at Noeo have done a great job in providing the lowest possible price.

My children are very excited for each new lesson and the experiments have been really fun.  I would have to say that my favorite thing about this curriculum is what a neat package it is.  It’s so easy to order, the website is clear and interesting and all my expectations have been been met.  If I had one recommendation for the Noeo folks it would be to ask them to offer some fill in the blank type pictures and quiz/puzzles for specific lessons on their website.  Of course that is just the lazy mom in me that doesn’t want to look for it on the internet.  I find that I enjoy learning and discovering from this curriculum just as much as my children. 

This curriculum is all about discovery and I hope you will be inspired to learn more about this fantastic world the Lord has created through the exceptional job done by the Noeo Science Folks.  www.noeoscience.com

Keep Sailing,

Mary Hugill

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